NAVAJO TACOS – Worth The Effort!

IMG_0218Navajo Tacos are one of those dishes I tend to forget about until I flip through my recipe box. (This is the device we used before the days of computers to store our recipes.) When I do make them, I chide myself for not doing so more often – they’re uber yummy…and not as time consuming as I think it will be.

If you’re unfamiliar with this dish, Navajo Tacos are fry bread topped with chili. Really, what’s not to like?!

In order for the chili and fry bread to be done at the same time, start the chili first. Then, as it’s simmering prepare the fry bread.

NOTE:  You can shorten the chili cooking time by using pre-cooked beans. Reduce the vegetable stock to 1 cup since you won’t need the extra 1/2 cup to be absorbed into the raw beans.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:  The fry bread is cooked in oil – not just a tablespoon or two, at least 2 inches. I’m all about saving money. Make sure you strain and save the oil after you use it in a plastic container you designate specifically for used cooking oil – don’t mix it back with the clean oil. Then, you can use the same oil over and over until it’s too grungy to use again. You can actually freeze it, if you like. When it’s time to dispose of it, check online for places to donate used cooking oil (they actually exist!)

NAVAJO TACOS – makes 6 servings


  • 1/2 cup raw Great Northern beans
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, pressed (1 clove)
  • 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 lb fake ground beef (I use Worthington Redi-Burger – see photo below)
  • IMG_02121½ cups vegetable stock – or 1 cup if using pre-cooked beans
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put beans in a saucepan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to boil, lower flame to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off stove, cover pot, and let sit for 1 hour. Drain. You can do this step ahead of time.

Sauté onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add in fake meat, breaking it up with a flat headed stirrer, if necessary, depending on the brand (I have to do this with Redi-Burger). Add in the stock, beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil, and salt.

Bring to boil, lower flame to simmer mixture, cover, and let cook for 1½ hours, until beans are done.

Chili can easily be frozen so if you like this recipe, next time double or triple the recipe and then freeze for future use. No point in cooking and cleaning more than you need to.

     Fry Bread – makes 6

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • vegetable oil for deep frying

Put flour, dry milk, baking powder, salt, and shortening into the work bowl of your food processor. If you don’t own a food processor you’ll have to do this all by hand. (During the next 15 minutes of tedious work, think about how you really need a food processor.)

Turn on machine, then slowly add in the water through the pour spout. Allow machine to run 30 seconds after dough has formed a ball. (This is how fast and easy it is to knead with a food processor!) Divide dough into 6 equal balls, then flatten with your hands as much as possible. Cover with a tea towel and let rest while oil is heating.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a wok or deep pan to 375º Fahrenheit.

On a floured board, roll out a dough piece with a rolling pin to make a 5″-6″ circle. (See photo below)


Carefully pick up dough and gently pat excess flour from bottom. Drop into hot oil. Let cook for 3 minutes, then flip and fry 2 more minutes. Both sides should be golden brown. (See photos below)

fry bread frying

Remove to a large cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Keep warm by storing in an oven heated to 200º Fahrenheit.

While one dough is frying, roll out the next so it’s ready to go. Keep the uncooked dough covered with a tea towel so they don’t dry out.


Ladle chili over fry bread. Top with tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, olives, guacamole, or whatever you like.






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